Health & Fitness

Preparing for the Flu

“I’m sick. Looks like I’ll be sleeping and laying in bed all day. Oh wait, I’m a mom.” -said every mom every where

*This post was sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, but all writing and personal opinions are my own.

It’s that time of year again; the sniffles, cough, fevers, congestion, body aches, its the FLU!! I know for me and my family we will do anything it takes to avoid this diagnosis.

So I’ve once again teamed up with a medical professional from Kaiser Permanente Orange County to help us be best prepared for the flu season. I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Wendy Coling, an eleven year veteran of family and internal medicine. Below are the questions that I was able to ask and I think some of the information might surprise you…I know it did for me.

How does the flu spread? 

The flu spreads by respiratory drops; aka coughing or sneezing. When someone does not cover their mouth while coughing or sneezing those germs are what travel through the air and can get others sick. It can also be spread by touch, so if someone has the flu and coughs into their hands, then they touch a doorknob, you could then get their germs. It is best to minimize contact with anyone who has the flu.

What can we do to avoid getting the flu? 

The NUMBER ONE thing Dr. Coling suggests, actually insists, is that you get the flu vaccine!!!

Other options to try to avoid getting the flu would be to wear a mask around anyone that might have the flu, wash down areas that may have been infected, frequent hand washing and getting a good night’s rest! People with diseases such as asthma and diabetes should take extra care of themselves because if they get the flu it can become more serious.

Preparing for the Flu

Why do some people still get the flu who have had the flu shot? 

Flu vaccines are generally about 60% effective and this year seems to be well matched to the flu types they are already seeing in the community. So it is possible to still get the flu if you have received the vaccine, BUT, even if you get the flu it would be a shorter duration and much more mild than if you didn’t get the flu shot at all. Also, the more people that get the flu vaccine lowers the rates in your own community of people that get the flu. And did you know that 1 in 3 people can carry the flu and NEVER have ANY SYMPTOMS?? So you might feel great but unknowingly pass the flu to your own family members. Which is why Dr. Coling says everyone really needs to get the flu vaccine.

On a personal note, I took a poll on my Instagram page and I was really surprised that 60% of almost 500 people said that they DO NOT get the flu shot every year. I have been a part of that 60%, but I have to say I think after this conversation with Dr. Coling, I may have changed my mind. It astonished me that I could carry the flu and not know it but give it to someone else.

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Is the flu vaccine safe for everyone to get?

The flu shot is not only safe and encouraged for people of all ages, but it is even highly suggested for women who are pregnant or nursing. Complications from the flu kill just as many people as breast cancer does each year. The only people who should be concerned with getting the flu shot are those with a severe egg allergy, those with a personal history of Guillian-Barre syndrome, or those who have had a significant allergic reaction to the flu vaccine in the past. If you can eat food with eggs in them, then you will be fine to receive the vaccine despite an egg allergy. For those with a personal history of Guillain-Barre syndrome or those who have had a significant allergic reaction to the flu vaccine in the past, discuss with your doctor prior to getting the flu vaccine.

Which is better when cleaning hands; washing with soap and water or hand sanitizer?

Washing hands with soap and water is always best, but the doctor also wanted to reiterate that even washing your hands is not going to stop you from getting the flu. Because the germs can spread through the air you can’t prevent the flu by just washing your hands.

If you think you have the flu should you see a doctor immediately?

If you have diseases like asthma or diabetes you should definitely see a doctor right away if you have flu symptoms. Most likely a doctor will prescribe Tamiflu or similar medication within the first 1-2 days. Also, people who are obese also fall into this category. If you have no chronic diseases then it is reasonable to stay home unless your fever is out of control (104-106). Also, IF it seems to be getting WORSE after a few days and your fever is unmanageable then you will want to see a doctor. Dr. Colling suggests to evaluate yourself in the middle of the day, not in the morning or at night when symptoms always seem to be worse.

How do you know you have the flu and not a cold?

The major difference between a cold and the flu is the fever. If you have a fever over 103 degrees, chances are you have the flu. Doctor stresses the importance to stay hydrated and to get lots of rest if you do have the flu.

Preparing for the Flu

How long does it last? How long are you contagious?

The flu can last up to seven days and you can be contagious all of those days. Wear a mask so that you don’t spread your germs to other people.

I lived in Japan for almost a year and people would wear a mask to cover their mouth when sick, does that really help to stop spread germs? If so, why don’t we do it here?

Yes, wearing a mask really does help to stop spread the germs of the flu (and other germs too). It would be so helpful if more people wore a mask to cover their germs. Doctor Coling isn’t sure why more people don’t wear a mask here other than we as Americans tend to not like requirements made of us by others. MY PERSONAL OPINION, I think it should be required that if you have the flu you must wear a mask! No one wants to get sick, so please do us all a favor; stay home and if you have to go out, wear a mask!!

Preparing for the Flu

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Have you had the flu? Do you get the flu shot every year? What are your thoughts?

 

 

This article has 6 comments

  1. Amy

    This is such a helpful post! There are a lot of misunderstandings about the flu and flu shots, and this explains everything very well. Thank you for sharing this important information.

  2. Justine Y @ Little Dove

    Great post friend! I agree, if you’re sick then stay home! I can’t believe how many kids especially I see out and about when they’re sick, I get so annoyed about that. I pretty much always get the flu shot, as do my kids. My hubby used to have to for his work when he was at a community clinic or else he’d have to wear a mask whenever he was around patients, lol.

    • Jenny

      My hubby always gets one because of his work, this will probably be my first time getting one. I’m a little nervous, but want to protect my loved ones!

  3. Sarah

    Very helpful! YES to the masks if sick and out in public. I wish we would embrace that more here in America. I used to think they also did that so they wouldn’t get sick themselves. I literally twitch when someone sneezes on my kids or baby- even adults will do it!

    • Jenny

      Yes, I wish we would embrace it more here too! We could learn a lot from the Japanese culture!;)

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